Unmasking the Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses : Firm Level Evidence from across the World

Marie Christine Apedo-Amah, Besart Avdiu, Xavier Cirera, Marcio Cruz, Elwyn Davies, Arti Grover, Leonardo Iacovone, Umut Kilinc, Denis Medvedev, Franklin Okechukwu Maduko, Stavros Poupakis, Jesica Torres, Trang Thu Tran

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This paper provides a comprehensive assessment of the short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses worldwide with a focus on developing countries. The results are based on a novel data set collected by the World Bank Group and several partner institutions in 51 countries covering more than 100,000 businesses. The paper provides several stylized facts. First, the COVID-19 shock has been severe and widespread across firms, with persistent negative impact on sales. Second, the employment adjustment has operated mostly along the intensive margin (that is leave of absence and reduction in hours), with a small share of firms laying off workers. Third, smaller firms are disproportionately facing greater financial constraints. Fourth, firms are increasingly relying on digital solutions as a response to the shock. Fifth, there is great uncertainty about the future, especially among firms that have experienced a larger drop in sales, which is associated with job losses. These findings provide a better understanding of the magnitude and distribution of the shock, the main channels affecting businesses, and how firms are adjusting. The paper concludes by discussing some avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2020


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